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Find hope through forgiveness

Forgiveness isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s downright tough, whether it’s yourself or someone else you need to forgive.

Louis Zamperini

We may need help to deal with deep hurts

Louis Zamperini, subject of the biography UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand, was an American Olympic distance runner, WWII veteran, and prisoner of war. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics he finished 8th in the 5,000 m race and set a new lap record in the process.

During the war, his bomber crashed into the ocean on a search and rescue mission. He and two surviving crewmates drifted at sea on a life raft for 47 days before landing on a Japanese island and being captured. During his tenure in four different POW camps in Japan, he was tortured and beaten. As an American athlete, he was seen as a good target for punishment. He felt nothing but hatred for these officers.

Following the war he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. He drank heavily, trying to forget. His marriage was on the rocks when his wife went to hear Billy Graham speak, and turned her life over to Christ. In 1949, at her urging he accompanied Cynthia to a crusade. Billy Graham’s preaching reminded him of his prayers during those 47 days on a life raft, and he committed his life to Christ.

Graham helped Zamperini launch a new career as a Christian evangelist. One of his recurring themes was forgiveness. Four days before his 81st birthday in January 1998, Zamperini ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This was not far from the POW camp where he had been held. He met with some of his old captors, telling them he had forgiven them.

How does forgiveness give hope?

Pastor Joe has taught on forgiveness the past four weeks. Several points struck me today.

God’s work in us, to make us more like himself, is continuous. Sometimes I’ve had to forgive repeatedly before the injury loses its power over me. Forgiveness frees us from the need to get even.

We’re challenged to leave vengeance to God. HE knows the whole story. I don’t know what caused a former employee to talk down about me at every opportunity. Every day at noon I parked across from a broad and sweeping oak tree, read the Psalms and asked God to help me hang on and do my work well.

And it seemed every Psalm I read encouraged me not to retaliate in kind but to leave her backstabbing in God’s hands, trusting he would take care of the situation.

And he did. When it became evident this employee had stolen from the company, she was fired.

I’ve forgiven her. I don’t know what needs, what insecurities prompted her to act as she did toward me. But God knows the whole story.

Find hope through forgiveness because of obedience

Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

A long-time friend ended our relationship because of something I did. I’m not proud of it, but I believe that, before God, I have done all I possibly could to ask forgiveness and to reconcile the relationship. While she said she forgave me, she has been unwilling to put that behind and re-build our friendship. So I’ve had to forgive her for that, and pray for God’s blessing in her life.

God only commands the best for his people–and forgiveness is a command. Jesus said

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:11-12 ESV

Benefits of forgiveness

When we grant forgiveness, we receive the blessings of freedom and better relationships, as well as improved physical and mental health.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Unforgiveness is like taking a poison and hoping the other person will die.” Forgiveness prevents us from allowing bitterness to set in.

Forgiveness frees us to receive more of God’s blessings. When I truly forgive, I realize I’m not responsible for another’s actions or response. I’m only responsible for mine, and I can and do own those.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV

Forgiveness can be costly. It requires letting go of the other person’s hold on you, and of your right to seek vengeance. There’s a good article on steps to achieve forgiveness at,and%20serve%20with%20real%20peace

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15 NIV

I pray that you and I will be people of forgiveness. When we recall all God has forgiven us for, how can we not share that blessing with those who hurt us?,and%20living%20in%20the%20present.

I don’t mean to imply there should be no consequences for sin. If you have been abused, report the person and let them face the consequences of their actions toward you. But isn’t it often the little things–

  • The driver who cuts us off on the highway
  • The woman who rudely brushes by us in the store, pushing us off balance
  • The spouse who didn’t read your mind
  • The comment made in such a way that you felt devalued, when its intent was quite different

–that we sometimes stew over? Why not forgive, clarify understanding if needed, and let your anger go even if that crazy driver never knows you forgave him (or her). You will be free to move on in peace.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV


  1. Karen Kleinberg says:

    Amen!! Forgiving is like standing under a warm waterfall…Refreshing… exhilarating… and life-giving.

    Thank you!

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Amen! And freeing. Thank you Karen!

  2. Kathy Caballero says:

    Praise God! What a beautiful addition to Pastor Joe’s series. I love that when I truly forgive, I realize that I am not responsible for another’s action or responses. That is so liberating!

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Kathy, I agree. It is so freeing to know I am responsible before God for ME, not for someone else – and forgiveness allows me that freedom. Thank you!

  3. Mary K. Phillips says:

    Thanks Carol, fixing or changing someone else is a worthless pursuit.
    Forgiveness frees you to live your best life, move on, let go, chill.
    On and on, the benefits of forgiveness.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      So very true, Mary. I appreciate your adding your thoughts.

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